As the T20 world cup inches towards its closure, it has set up an astonishing debate among cricket Enthusiasts. The differential treatment of Ashwin and David Warner has again opened up the debate on whether principles rule the game or a particular set of boards.
Warner’s ‘unspirited’ shot:
Other than scoring a quickfire 49, David Warner also hogged the limelight for one more reason, after the T20 world cup semi-final match between Australia and Pakistan. During the 8th over of Australia’s splendid run chase, 41-year-old Mohammad Hafeez missed completing his bowling action in tandem, which ended up the ball hitting the pitch way earlier than he expected. This resulted in the ball bouncing twice before reaching David Warner, the batsman. Warner however fully aware of the fact that Hafeez did not do it deliberately, danced down the track and hit the ball for a huge six over deep square leg.
Gautam Gambhir broke the silence:
However, there was no negative reaction from the cricketing world, especially from one of the most hostile British and Australian cricketing media. It took India’s world cup winner Gautam Gambhir to break the slumber. Expressing his opinion on the incident, he called Warner’s act of six-hitting a pathetic display of sportsmanship and against the spirit of the game. However, one of the respondents on the tweet reacted negatively to it and called it a “bad take” on the issue. R Ashwin who had been heavily alleged by pundits of breaking the spirit of cricket, when he Mankaded Jos Buttler in IPL, retorted back and said that Gambhir was just putting both incidents on an equal pedestal.
“His point is that if this is right, that was right. If that was wrong, this is wrong too. Fair assessment?” tweeted Ashwin.
— Gautam Gambhir (@GautamGambhir) November 11, 2021
Bad take Gautam.
— Peter Lalor (@plalor) November 12, 2021
His point is that if this is right , that was right. If that was wrong , this is wrong too. Fair assessment? @plalor
— Ashwin 🇮🇳 (@ashwinravi99) November 12, 2021
Speaking on his post-match show, Gambhir was critical of Australian heavyweights like Ricky Ponting and Shane Warne and questioned their silence on Warner’s shot. “Shane Warne comments and tweets on everything. Even Ricky Ponting makes big, big claims about the spirit of the game. What have they got to say about this?” said Gambhir. Accusing Shane Warne of favouritism, he added “When Ashwin does Mankad, they come up with big comments. Today, what has Shane Warne got to say about David Warner? Because it’s easy to criticise someone but extremely difficult to criticise your own players,”.
— Prashant Sharma (@PrashantMUFC) November 11, 2021
Ashwin was heavily criticised for Mankading Buttler:
In IPL 2019, Ravichandran Ashwin had run Jos Buttler out, when he was constantly trying to leave the crease before the ball was delivered. Leaving the crease, a fraction of seconds early is against the rules of the game and the bowler has every right to run the batsman out. However, after the incident cricketers like Shane Warne, Ashwin Team’s coach Ricky Ponting, Michael Vaughn, Jofra Archer and many others had come out in unison to criticise Ashwin ‘unspirited approach towards the game’.
Gambhir and Ashwin simply questioned the hypocrisy:
It is pertinent to note that Gautam Gambhir never questioned Warner’s right to hit the ball. Gambhir and Ashwin are both believers of the fact that if a player commits even a minor mistake at the international level sport, they should be paying for it; considering in mind how a minuscule difference in the execution of skills ends up upgrading or downgrading the stature of the country they are representing. If weakness is allowed to prevail at the international level in the name of the spirit of the game, it will set a bad precedent for nearly 3 billion people all across the globe. Gambhir and Ashwin just pointed towards the hypocrisy of various cricketing pundits who wine and dine on the back of supporting their favourites while putting others down.
Spirit of the game has now become a tool for the erstwhile powerful boards like English Cricket Board, Cricket Australia to shame the now powerful and influential Indian cricketing fraternity. Former captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni had slammed English double standards on the issue, while he went on to win the ICC spirit of the cricket award for the decade. Favouritism towards Warner and criticism of Ashwin has again shifted the focus towards power dynamics in the international cricketing arena.